Lunar Eclipse over Mount Rainier
Notes from the field
Lunar eclipses happen every few years. In fact, some years have two or three eclipses. An eclipse of a "super moon," however is more rare. The moon's distance from Earth varies between 225,622 and 252,088 miles; lunar eclipses that occur when it is closest to earth happen only about once every 20 years or so. For me, what made this eclipse special was that the moon would already be in full eclipse as it climbed above the horizon after sunset, providing an especially rare opportunity to photograph it with a landscape colored by the very last light of day. Cameras can capture relatively little dynamic range. When eclipses happen at night, the landscape is too dark to capture with the moon. Many eclipse pictures you see rely on double exposures or compositing; this image is from a single frame without any camera tricks. I spent a few weeks planning this image, overlaying the moon's position on topographical maps. I selected Mount Rainier as my landscape subject since it is a Northwest icon and its icefields would reflect more of the twilight. I knew the moon would rise behind Mount Rainier from this vantage point, but I was still anxious for it to rise, not knowing if the mountain would still be bright enough by the time it appeared more than a half hour after sunset. When this image appeared on my camera's screen seconds after I captured it, I knew it was something special.